Monday, February 08, 2010

The Katie Project

From (my other blog) Blog-By-Bike:

My boyfriend thinks I'm just like Julie Powell. That's what I get for encouraging him to watch a romantic comedy.

Between basketball practice, team meetings and publicity events associated with the bj-league in Japan, he is fairly isolated during his downtime - namely because he doesn't speak fluent Japanese. Because of this general seclusion from direct American contact, he is easily swayed to consume any media that is produced in English.

"It was a good movie," Terrence said - something I'm sure he'd be less eager to confess if I had physically dragged him into a theater to see Julie & Julia myself.

"And Meryl Streep was adorable," he admitted - an opinion he was less reluctant to divulge since he has a widely-known affinity for cuteness (Side note: Julie never actually called Julia Child "adorable"). If you ever want to make a 6'9" heterosexual male melt, just send him a link to any "cute kitten" video on YouTube. He also thinks tall, awkward women are more appealing that short, cute women - which was another factor that made this movie an easy sell.

And then he added, "And you are just like Julie."

"What about me is just like Julie?" I asked. "Give me adjectives."

"Just like she is," he replied. "You saw the movie. I'm not going to go crazy typing it all out, but you act like she does." [I suppose I should also clarify that this entire conversation took place via AOL Instant Messenger.]

"Neurotic?" I probed.






I paused, realizing that I had not come up with one endearing adjective to describe Julie.

"Focused," he typed, "And female."

"Thanks for putting a positive spin on this," I typed back.

I'm not sure what kind of picture this paints for anyone who might be reading this blog without ever having met me - especially if one already has a mental perception of a 30-year old, half-Filipina, half-White woman, who is tall for anyone of Asian decent, with a long torso, short arms, long legs and small, exactly-the-same-size feet (an apparently abnormal trait), as determined by the pro bicycle fitter at R&A Cycles a few weeks ago. When I shared my measurements with a coworker at job #1, who is four inches shorter than me, we compared arms and mine were, indeed, even shorter than hers. I can't believe I never realized that I have short arms before, but my disproportioned measurements actually make sense. I am exactly what happens when you mix average-size White genes with much smaller Asian genes: long torso, long legs, short arms, small hands, small feet.

I suppose there are some similarities between us, which may be few to mention - since I don't know the actual Julie Powell anymore than anyone can claim by simply judging a Hollywood dramatization of someone else's life. However, we both live in New York City. We both consider moving from one New York borough to another (a span of mere miles) like changing planets - or, at a minimum, I totally related to the relocation scene at the opening of Julie & Julia.

We both like to eat (though I can name essentially everything that I know how to cook, which someone once told me - as I proudly listed them off - is not actually a good thing). We both work in cubicles - at least until her writing began to turn a profit. We both blog. Anyone, who regularly posts their thoughts on the Internet - with the hope and assumption that someone out there is going to care - is comprised of some level of narcissism. We both use hobbies as a channel for self-exploration; case in point: the blogging we both do ends up being more about ourselves than the hobbies. She has a "Donation" button on her blog The Julie/Julia Project, an avenue for others to make charitable donations to a non-charitable, self-absorbed cause.

We both enjoy writing and attempt - more often than socially accepted in literary academic circles - to make run-on sentences charming. I check my blog everyday for new comments, which - not unlike Julie in her early blogger years - also serves as a daily reminder that my mother is likely one of my only regular readers. And I relish any opinion that anyone might make an effort to share, openly accepting the occasional backlash it may incur, as I'm sure Julie has had to learn, since - through blogging - we indirectly welcome the equal advantage and risk of having people tell us what they really think. The aptitude to be simultaneously vulnerable and thick-skinned is also a characteristic that Julie and I certainly must share.

I suppose one of our likely-many differences (outside of stating my obvious lack of a dominant gene for red hair; then again, based on a few Google images, neither does she) is that she hates the subway more than I do (I still enjoy how my knowledge of it and familiarity with it make me feel like a New Yorker), and she drops the F-word in her previous and current blog more often than I would ever have the courage to use it to color my own writing - mostly because I know how much it will disappoint my parents, who will now be disappointed to learn how much I actually enjoy including it in my daily vernacular. The main advantage Julie has over me is that she began blogging random, inane thoughts before they became cliché.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

No Can Without Will

From (my other blog) Blog-By-Bike:

I am sitting on the toilet in our bathroom, the only place in the apartment where my roommate and I can consistently "borrow" wireless Internet from our neighbors. After nearly two days, wallowing in my self-pity party, pouting at both jobs, and soliciting money with shameless plugs on Twitter [DONATE HERE], I am deciding here and now to drag myself out of the financial funk that I've been in all weekend. So what if I underestimated my cycling attire needs by nearly two grand or if I was off by another thousand for bicycle equipment? I've come a long way - and with a lot of love and support from family and friends - and that's too much to be proud of to focus on what's still lacking.

I cried once back in 2006, after surviving my second weekend with a second job at a casino in western North Carolina. Much like now, I had created a goal that required more than my single income could provide. It was the cry of frustration that often ensues when a single person enters into the exhausting world of dual employment. Even those of the heartiest character can have moments of weakness. The determining factor is what results from these moments.

Four years later, I didn't waste energy on tears this time. If I have learned anything about time, I've learned that it passes. It passes whether you throw a tantrum, wallow in self-pity or whine and complain. It doesn't wait for you to realize that you're wasting it. It doesn't allow a replay if you regret not taking a second to just be in the moment. The only thing you can control is what you do as it passes. Much like in 2006 - if not exactly - the sun still rises and sets, the moon continues through its phases, the seasons change. Whether I work my ass off at job #2 all weekend or spend it relaxing, another Monday morning at job #1 still comes. And I'd rather be a little bit closer to my goal each time it does.

Not too long ago, I played devil's advocate with a friend regarding a debate over disabled parking privileges. Imagine if you needed to use that permit, I had said to her, what would you give to not need it? What would you give to be able to just walk on your own from the last space at the very end of the lot?

I decided to take my own advice and appreciate the fact that I can. I can pleasantly answer phones, reply to emails, schedule meetings and manage endless piles of receipts to expense at job #1. I can smile and serve overpriced cocktails at job #2. I can gratefully work two jobs in an economy where many people are imagining what they'd give for just one. I can appreciate that I am in a position to finance frivolous dreams when there are others who just want to survive. Whenever I'm having a rough time, I eventually remember to try to search for some perspective.

If gratitude for what I do have and "glass half full" analogies just aren't cutting it or whenever I have a classic case of the "mean reds", Stiles Farmer's Market on West 52nd Street is my own version of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Just the sight of all the fresh produce one can buy for a dollar can cheer most of my mild emotional ruts.

And in Bikram yoga, the instructor often talks about bringing yourself into the room, being in the moment, and moving onto the next pose, even if we are too tired, simply because we can.

And when I am too sore and exhausted to push my bicycle over another hill this summer, I will. Because I will know that I can.